"I think that even if social repression were not connected with other forms of repression we should still desire to be sexually liberated".
People are always asking me, particularly people who'd like to feel sympathetic towards us but don't, 'cause they feel we're too extremist - what are you trying to achieve? I find this question very difficult to answer because they're the kind of people that want you to answer in terms of "How do you think the things that you're doing are going to contribute to changing the laws?" or "How's it going to get us into power?" - or they also- want us to justify it in moralistic terms. Well, this just isn't the way we think. The worst experience I had with these kind of attitudes was with a social worker when I was in jail. I thought all she'd want of me would be background details. As it happened, and I suppose I was rather naive not to realise this, what she wanted was to talk to me about politics, to admit that what I'd done by wearing the costume, the one which had on it "I have been fucked by God's steel prick", was somehow not quite right. If I'd put out a petition or something and sent it up to Parliament everyone would have been quite happy. She said to me, "Wendy do you think this is the most achieving, rational, intelligent way to carry on?"
I thought the Sorbonne students had something to say on this matter when they put out what were called the 33 Theses in the 1968 revolt. They said - let us refuse to reply when asked where we are going. We are not in power, we do not have to be positive, we do not have to justify our excesses. So quite often when people ask "What are you trying to do"? I've gone round just simply saying "We're just trying to put out a newspaper".
Well, of course, given the society we live in, this is, of course, understating it a bit - just saying we're trying to put out a newspaper - and I find that that answer really freaks out the liberals - they think we must be totally frivolous in our attitudes. A lot of left-wingers feel that we want to publish pornography, that we have to justify it in revolutionary terms - how it is contributing to anti-imperialism, the anti-imperialist struggle, or something like this.
There have always been people within the Marxist movement who've argued that a sexual revolution would be a pre-requisite for a free society. There was Wilhelm Reich, a Freudian, who in the course of arguing his view, was thrown out of both the Marxist and the Freudian movement. I think it was a comment on the puritanism of both movements. He argued the economic repressions of society were anchored in the individual by the family through sexual repression.
As it happens I support this view but again even if it wasn't connected with economic repression I would still be in favour of sexual liberation. It takes a certain sort of person to be oppressed and not even notice it.
One of the things Reich was criticising in the Russian revolution was the fact that a lot of the moves towards abolishing the family, which he saw as a repressive sexual unit, were killed after the Bolsheviks came to power - they seemed to move back on the sexual liberation line and became more puritanical again.
A student in China was meant to have said when questioned about the fact that husbands and wives are sometimes separated because the State requires them to work in different places - he said, "Of course they miss their families but we know that our first job is to build Socialism". I think the reality principle - rather than the pleasure principle, is firmly established in that boy. Well, it's not my view - I think I'd call myself a socialist, but not a socialist in the sense that I feel the individuals needs need be subjected to any ideology. I think it's this sort of puritanism in the Left which has lead the Yippies to call ideology a brain disease.
I'd say that it's unlikely that people of a puritan nature who have been sexually repressed will ever, each and every one of them, involve themselves in a spontaneous uprising in which they want to take control of their own lives. I'd say if there's to be a socialist revolution, I'm pretty pessimistic about this anyway, it would have to be a revolution inside each individual person to get rid of the repressions inside them and the norms and the values they've internalised.
Some of the Marxists - Marcuse in his latest book, Five Lectures, - are coming more and more to this view. Because if you get around to thinking how you can free the individual you begin to realise that much of the repression is very deeply rooted. Most of you probably realise yourselves that you've absolutely no hope of becoming non-neurotic people, though you may be able to throw off some of your repressions.
Somebody asked Marcuse about a paper he'd given and they said to him "It seems to me that the centre of your paper today was the transformation of society must be preceded by a transformation of needs". Marcuse replied, "You've defined what is unfortunately the most important difficulty in this matter - your objection is that for new revolutionary needs to develop the old needs must be abolished and there must first be a need to abolish them. That is the circle in which we are placed and I don't know how to get out of it".
Well a lot of what Marcuse is on about is that people have internalised their needs and before you'd ever get in them any feeling of the need for liberation there'd have to be a tremendous change in those people. The impossibility of these dramatic and fundamental changes, makes the possibility of achieving a free society very unlikely. At the same time even though we may not look forward to being completely free, or for anybody in the future to be completely free, it seems to me that in this society we can reject or attempt to reject a lot of this repression and to promote freedom in what I'm talking about - sexual matters. I'm in favor of freedom being promoted in any other matters as well, but I don't feel the need to excuse the fact that one of the areas which particularly interests me is sexual theory and sexual behaviour.
I was talking to one of the women in the Women's Liberation Movement and one of the things they had against us was that we were prepared to publish stuff which they said was about sexual perversion - sadism and homosexuality were the particular ones they were upset about. Well, certainly Reich argues that the free sexual being would be a heterosexual one. Quite frankly, I don't know what a free sexual being would be like, because it's something none of us have experienced, but I'd say that to argue that the free sexual being would be a heterosexual being would NOT be to argue that in this society we should suppress material about other forms of sexuality. Trying to keep out that kind of material, e.g. trying to ban the Marquis de Sade's works or any other works of that nature isn't to promote freedom. And to discourage the sadist from getting any pleasure he can is not a step in the right direction if you're interested in freedom.
Well, there's nothing special about shocking people - people are offended and shocked by all sorts of things, for instance I am offended by magistrates, judges and policemen, and I'm shocked by a lot of things that are happening in Vietnam, but I haven't noticed any of the establishment rushing forward to protect me so I won't be shocked any more. So it's not just shock which upsets people.
People are shocked by the phrase "I've been fucked by God's steel prick" or even the words 'fuck' or 'cunt 'themselves; they're shocked because they're confronted by something they ordinarily wouldn't see and if they're aware of the words at all, which sometimes they're not because they're so far repressed, that often when they hear these words for the first time or even the first few times, they do feel guilt and shame about it, embarrassment in a more superficial sense. But it seems to me that these kinds of taboos depend partly on the fact that the words 'fuck' and 'cunt' will rarely be heard. They depend on notions of fear - of "What will happen if anyone is using these words, or everybody printing this material, what will happen to us!"
Of course once experienced it begins to get through to people that nothing very much is going to happen. There's nothing to get into a panic about. So I've seen this myself. I hadn't grown up with pornography or anything like that, in fact I wouldn't have seen any of it until I was about 20 years old. I've had a very quick education in the last 12 months and some of the things - for instance a cartoon which had two pirates and a prick, a very enormous prick out on the table, and the other pirate chopped off the top of it and ate it, and said "The head tastes best" - well I will say when I saw this I felt quite horrified, and I know a lot of men felt horrified by it too - castration complex or something.
But I find now that this sort of thing doesn't freak me out and I'm able to cope with it as just part of experience - just another thing I'm looking at and I don't have to look away in horror.
One of the things that happened in court, and I think I made some use of this, was that when they arrest you they take things like your costume off you, and they have this like an exhibit in court. They didn't use evidence in my case because they thought it was such a walkover - and the main way they explained their attitudes was that the prosecutor just picked up the costume and threw it down again and said I had no case for it, and it really freaked them out.
So when it came to me, I grabbed the costume and looked quite happy about it, and I even held it up so the other people could see that it wasn't upsetting me, and I think perhaps some of this did get across to the jury. I also used wherever I could, or whenever they came in, the words 'fuck' and 'cunt,' and I said the phrase in court so the jury themselves perhaps got a bit used to it - I'd like to think so, during those three hours, but I realise also that changes like this aren't going to happen as fast as this.
You would have noticed that Superman never fucked Lois and even though he had X-ray vision he could never see her tits. I don't know what you think Superman did do, but apparently Superman could crush somebody in his steel grip and I don't know if you have wondered what would happen if he ever fucked someone. Well, these are the points ZAP Komics - Crumb is one of them - make - so you get a cartoon with Superman stuck right up Lois - and one of the earliest ones was a thing done by the surrealists which sent up Disney characters which had Snow White surrounded by the 7 dwarfs who were all over her, sucking her off and trying to fuck her, and crawling all over her. I think the points they're trying to make is that this sort of thing is cut right out of our lives.
I don't really like the term Porno-politics - because politics I usually associate with battles for power, but I guess its a word you can use without having those power type connotations. What these people are trying to do is to test the limits of your experience.
What we haven't come across here but will probably come across is some of the live pornographers, and Otto Muhl is one who's been doing some things in Germany and also over in England.
The sexual libertarians in Amsterdam organised what they called a "Wet Dream" Festival and there were mainly films, but they invited Otto Muhl to put on one of his acts. Well he used to do things just like fucking on stage and he has spent some time in gaol for these kind of things, but his act has become what he would probably call a more advanced one - anyway I'd say its certainly one which is pushing bourgeois ideas of experience much further and pushing people further in their willingness to extend the categories they're willing to think about and break through some of their taboos.
Well his act was this - First of all two assistants came leaping onto the stage saying "Throw off your repressions".
Then two girls started some lesbian activities. At this stage Otto Muhl came onto the stage with a goose and what was planned was that he was going to cut off the goose at the neck and put a condom, a french letter, on the neck and fuck one of the girls with this - he had done this before.
Well at this, the sexual libertarians freaked right out. They rushed up on to the stage, got most authoritarian and aggressive, started fighting Otto Muhl and amongst themselves. Some of the sexual libertarians who weren't so freaked out tried to stop this happening. In the end they managed to get Otto Muhl under control, and as one final gesture he walked back into the middle of the stage and shat on the ground, thus sort of just pouring his contempt on them.
I think it certainly shows there are a lot of remnants of bourgeois mentality still left in these people. Some of course will argue that what they were trying to stop was the goose's head being chopped off. But I feel this is rather spurious as these people don't get upset when they know animals get killed this way every day and I guess this was their way of rationalising it since they couldn't cope with it anyway.
These are some of the ways I think that porno-politics might be bringing these things out into the open and by extending the areas of experience in a way in which they will promote freedom in sexual matters. But I also see printing pornography as just a protest in itself. Now as far as I'm concerned, if something is forbidden, unless there is some good reason not to do it which I feel myself and understand myself, the fact that it is forbidden is enough for me to want to do it. So providing pornography is banned, or that it really freaks politicians right out, I'm going to be really keen to keep doing it.
The use of pornography and the use of different values, different language, does identify the counter-culture as the counter-culture. I think this comes out quite well with the Yippies - they're quite happy to be defiant, to be outside the establishment, outside the mainstream of society.
I think also its a way of de-mystification. A lot of NSW students, after a while, have come to agree with us that there is nothing more ridiculous than a politician sounding off saying "how filthy" or "how degrading".
Its almost like a little theatre - you do something and you know what their reactions are going to be. Sometimes, of course, the politicians learn the game rather well. Recently a poster went up around about Sydney which said "Willis (the Chief Secretary of NSW) is a Secret Muff Muncher", with a large picture of Willis underneath munching a muff - a muff is a cunt. Well Willis came out just before the elections and said "I don't know what the Labor Party is doing - it's only hurting itself with this kind of literature".
We thought it was the most amusing thing he'd said all year.
One thing we thought from the beginning was that a lot of censorship goes on simply because people are intimidated by laws. We had the feeling we could get away with an awful lot by going ahead in a pretty bold way.
For instance, in Sydney last year they held two porno-festivals. There were 3000 people, and we saw people getting up and reading things from banned works, and blue movies, and slides, and nothing happened. There were no prosecutions, and the police were around, but they didn't bother doing anything.
So one of our points is, if you're not intimidated and you don't take the law so seriously, you may get away with it. Also of course, we're not embarrassed about being so-called criminals - we're not worried about the breaking of the laws. The only thing we are worried about is the penalties.
It is interesting to notice that nobody seems interested in "ESKIMO NELL", and that's only 12 months later. I was thinking that, as Albie Thoms suggested, if we smuggle Otto Muhl in here and put him on stage, in a couple of Universities, or in Hyde Park one day, it will take the heat off us.
If we just keep extending every freedom they just won't notice what we're doing anymore.
in Lot's Wife, March 18, 1971.